FAQ: Is It Legal To Discharge Hazardous Waste Into Sewer?
Possibly, if certain conditions are met.
First, there are different types of sewers. It is never permissible to discharge hazardous wastes to a STORM SEWER. The discussion below refers to discharges to a SANITARY SEWER only.
The Clean Water Act (CWA) Pretreatment Program regulations require that Industrial Users (IUs) report any substance discharged to the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) which, if otherwise disposed of, would be considered a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste. Under RCRA’s Domestic Sewage Exclusion (DSE), any mixture of domestic sewage and other wastes that passes through a sewer system to a POTW is not considered a hazardous waste for the purposes of RCRA.
However, reporting of such discharges are regulated under the CWA as follows:
- 40 CFR 403.12(p) requires a one-time report for each substance discharged to a POTW that, if otherwise disposed of, would be considered RCRA hazardous waste.
- 40 CFR 403.12(j) requires a report in advance of any substantial change in volume or character of any IU discharge.
Who Must Submit Notification of Hazardous Waste Discharge?
All IUs that discharge a substance that, if otherwise disposed of, would be characteristic or listed wastes under 40 CFR Part 261 and meet the following criteria:
- Total waste discharged is greater than or equal to 15 kg/month; or
- Waste discharged is acute hazardous waste.
Where Does Notification Need To Be Sent?
If notification of hazardous waste discharge is required, it needs to be submitted to:
- Local Sewerage Authority(i.e., POTW)
- EPA Regional Waste Management Director, and
- State Hazardous Waste Authority
What Does Notification Need To Include?
The notification must contain:
For hazardous wastes ≥ 15 kg/month or any quantity of acute, the one-time notification from an IU to a POTW must contain:
- Name of the hazardous waste as set forth in 40 CFR Part 261.
- EPA hazardous waste number (code).
- Type of discharge to the sewer (continuous, batch, or other).
- A certification that the IU has a program in place to reduce the volume and toxicity of hazardous wastes generated to the degree it has determined to be economically practical.
If the IU discharges > 100 kg of acute or non-acute hazardous waste per calendar month to the POTW, the notification must also contain the following items of information, to the extent such information is known and available:
- An identification of the hazardous constituents contained in the hazardous wastes.
- An estimation of the mass and concentration of such constituents in the waste stream discharged during the calendar month in which the one-time report is made.
- An estimation of the mass of constituents in the wastestream expected to be discharged during the 12 months following the notification.